Whenever I play an action adventure game I always think about the approach I want to take and the character I want to play. In the past I preferred characters which big beefy armour and a huge amount of health so that I could run up to enemies and beat them to death. When I was introduced to cover shooters – I believe Mass Effect or Mass Effect 2 would have been among the first – I found myself enjoying a different style of play. Popping up from behind cover, taking a couple of shots and then ducking back had a certain appeal for me and led me to discover my most favourite weapon of all – the sniper rifle.
I’d played with sniper rifles before – I remember an instance in the original Deus Ex where I was hiding in the roof of a garage taking down the guards within – but it had never quite clicked for me. I liked the high damage but wasn’t sure about the slow rate of fire or the limited ammunition if could hold. Mass Effect 2 turned this all around. I learned that the secret to successful sniping was to hide in cover, far away from the enemy, and lining up the precise shot required to take them down. Now, every shooter game I play, I’m always looking for a sniper rifle and when I find it I’m right back in the comfort zone.
When I started to play Destiny I was presented with a choice – did I want to play a heavily armoured Titan, a stealthy Hunter or a spell casting but low-armoured Warlock? I immediately chose the Hunter because I saw that he would give bonuses for guns, and I knew that he would have access to sniper rifles. Sure enough, some of my favourite battles have been where I’m situated on a high cliff with enemies milling about in the distance. I take the first one down before they know I’m there and I usually have just enough time to take a few more down before I have to switch to a different weapon.
Of course, as I’ve said, sniper rifles are all about precision shots and when you’re against bigger enemies like bosses you often don’t have time to line up on the boss’s weak spot. They do still have some small effect against them though and of course the point of a sniper is to attack without being attacked, so I still do what I can with it. Besides, if the sniper is getting shot at the rest of the team aren’t doing their job, right?
Grand Theft Auto V – and its online component – are also fun for sniping. Several missions in the main game give you the choice of either sneaking through an area or providing sniper cover. Some of the set pieces are quite spectacular as well, such as firing out of a helicopter into the side of a building to take out guards. But it’s really the online game where snipers shine. There are various game modes which have a team of snipers against another team using vehicles or other weapons, and that really comes down to speed and precision – I like to think I’m okay with precision but I could really work on my speed more.
One of my favourite parts of GTA Online is how unpredictable it can be. In the open world, outside of missions, you can get into some really fun situations. I remember playing with some of my fellow FBF’ers and managed to get into a chain of events that started with a massive pile-up with cars exploding everywhere and ended with another player in a helicopter against me with a sniper rifle. I’m glad to say I won. There are plenty of places in GTA where you can get high up on buildings and ledges and these make sniping an absolute joy.
But I think it’s the Division where my favourite sniping is to be found. I’d spent the first hour or so with an automatic weapon and a shotgun but I wasn’t having much fun – at least with the shotgun. But when I found my first sniper rifle it all changed. Suddenly I was able to take enemies down in one shot without them even knowing I was there and unable to react. One mission paired me up with two random players and, long story short, it ended in a sniper battle between me and the local gang leader. That was great fun. Of course, as enemies get harder you have to upgrade your weapons and I think I’m back at the point of one-hit takedowns.
Of course, sometimes it all goes wrong. When we played Left 4 Dead 2 the other night – look out for videos of our antics coming soon on our Youtube channel – I found a hunting rifle and I thought I would give it a go. It didn’t go so well. The speed of the infected coupled with the general unwieldiness meant I did better just using it like a normal gun which, because sniper rifles are famous for their accuracy and precision and hitting exactly where you aim with little deviancy, meant I was missing qutie a lot of stuff. Oh well, can’t win them all I guess.